Oops, this is embarrassing. In preparation for Lina Koutrakos’s concert at the Atlas* tomorrow (Friday) night, I went to link to my review of her brilliant CD, Torch, and I realized that I never wrote a review. It all happened because I got an early copy and wanted to write it after it became commercially available, etc. etc. etc.
And maybe part of me avoided writing about the CD, because it’s tough to describe something this good without constantly slipping into hyperbole. My most rational senses are over the moon about this recording. Not only do I feel that the quality of the recording itself is amazing, but I feel that it may end up being very influential, as I’ll explain later.
The CD is just Lina Koutrakos singing fairly standard American Songbook (with some contemporary) material, accompanied only by piano. And from that, she creates a ever-changing palette of shifting scenes in a cognac-infused setting, from the mood-setting Lush Life, to the playful You Fascinate Me So, the hyper-sexy Night Moves, and the cathartic Man That Got Away. All of this is supremely enhanced by the inventive and insightful piano work of Rick Jensen.
I’ve long marveled at the fact that Lina Koutrakos, rock chick, is one of the premier teacher/directors in the realm of the American Popular Songbook. In this CD, all that insight and wisdom come to bear on her own performance of the material. And just the way that Barbara Cook’s It’s Better With a Band recording showed sopranos that they can indeed swing, this CD is a watershed moment to show singers a path to contemporary interpretations of classic material without slipping into Linda Rondstadt-esque cheesiness or Rod Stewart-esque incoherence.
Although you can order the CD through iTunes or Amazon pick up a copy at Melody Records, why not just get one (or several) when Koutrakos and Jensen play the Atlas* tomorrow night?
*Atlas Theater, 1333 H St, NE, Washington DC, Friday, March 26th, 8:00pm, Tickets $10, at the door only.